Brett Myers has quietly had a terrific season and if he lasts six innings against a Pittsburgh Pirates team he's already beaten twice in 2010, it will be the 32nd straight time he's gone that long in a start. How uncommon is that? That streak would move him into a tie for the 17th-longest such streak since 1980 and tied for 48th overall since 1920. He's only just turned 30 and should definitely not be overlooked when you start your 2011 plans. As for the present, here's how Friday's starters shake out:
Starting pitcher rankings for Sept. 24
Rk.: The author's ranking of that pitcher for that day only. T: Pitcher throws left-handed or right-handed. Opp: The pitcher's opponent for the day. Rating: The starting pitcher's matchup rating -- separate from the author's ranking -- which accounts for past history (three years' worth as well as past 21 days), opponent and ballpark. Ratings range from 1-10, with 10 representing the best possible matchup, statistically speaking, and 1 representing the worst. W-L: Pitcher's win-loss record. ERA: Pitcher's earned run average. WHIP: Pitcher's average number of walks plus hits surrendered per inning.
Top options: Adam Wainwright seeks his 20th victory against the Chicago Cubs, and with little else left to motivate the St. Louis Cardinals, this is a milestone they should rally behind. Justin Verlander is 4-0 with a 2.35 in his past six starts and has a 2.65 ERA this season against the "already clinched" Minnesota Twins. Tim Hudson's lifetime record against the Washington Nationals is 10-1 with a 1.55 ERA.
Key battle: Tim Lincecum has a 2.36 ERA in September, but the Colorado Rockies have their backs against the wall and have beaten him twice this season. Meanwhile, Jhoulys Chacin is 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA against the San Francisco Giants in 2010. This one's going to be good!
Not quite golden: Francisco Liriano is 1-2 with a 5.16 ERA against the Detroit Tigers this year. Bronson Arroyo has a career ERA of 4.92 against the San Diego Padres and allowed eight runs in three innings against them earlier in 2010.
Maybe babies: R.A. Dickey has beaten the Philadelphia Phillies twice this season, and the knuckleballer is possibly the only Mets starter who may be able to befuddle that hot lineup. Jeremy Guthrie has lost twice this season to the Toronto Blue Jays, but has a 2.29 ERA against them.
First-timer: Mark Rogers makes his first big-league start. He was selected in the first round of the 2004 draft and has tossed two perfect innings out of the pen since his call-up on Sept. 10.
Hitter matchup ratings for Sept. 24
Hitter ratings account for the opposing starting pitcher's past history (three years' worth as well as past 21 days) as well as ballpark factors. "LHB" and "RHB" ratings account only for left- and right-handed batters, respectively.
Prince Fielder, 1B, Brewers: Fielder hasn't hit a home run since a pair of blasts in early September in Philadelphia, but he does have four career home runs against the current Marlins pitching staff.
Ryan Theriot, 2B, Dodgers: It's been a rough month for Theriot, who at one point went through an 0-for-26 stretch, however he is batting .353 lifetime against the current set of Diamondbacks arms.
Ian Kinsler, 2B, Rangers: The second baseman went 4-for-12 against Oakland in May, and then hurt his groin and missed all but one of the nine subsequent games against the Athletics. He's healthy again so expect the hits to come.
Daniel Descalso, 3B, Cardinals: The call-up from Memphis who drove in 71 runs at Triple-A will be in the running for the second base job in St. Louis next season, and is getting a chance to show some versatility as the 2010 season winds down.
Kosuke Fukudome, OF, Cubs: The outfielder is hitting just .154 for his career against Adam Wainwright, and has struck out 35 percent of the time they've squared off.
Shane Victorino, OF, Phillies: In the midst of a 1-for-16 tailspin, Victorino is 0-for-5 lifetime when facing tricky R.A. Dickey.
Dexter Fowler, OF, Rockies: No stolen bases since Aug. 17? A .182 batting average against Tim Lincecum? Fowler is simply foul.
Baseball Challenge Pick of the Day
Torii Hunter, CF, Angels: Freddy Garcia is on the mound for the White Sox, which bodes well for a big day from Hunter. In 43 lifetime at-bats, Hunter is batting .419 with four home runs against the veteran right-hander.
Chris Getz, 2B, Royals (out for season, concussion)
Geovany Soto, C, Cubs (out for season, shoulder surgery)
Tyler Colvin, OF, Cubs (out for season, punctured chest from broken bat)
Aaron Harang, P, Reds (day-to-day, right ankle)
Ryan Braun, OF, Brewers (day-to-day, bruised left elbow)
Chris Dickerson, OF, Brewers (day-to-day, strained hamstring)
Hanley Ramirez, SS, Marlins (may be shut down, elbow)
Michael Wuertz, P, Athletics (day-to-day, thumb)
Jim Edmonds, OF, Reds (day-to-day, strained right leg)
Yadier Molina, C, Cardinals (day-to-day, sore knee)
Weatherproof games: Orioles at Blue Jays, Marlins at Brewers, Mariners at Rays and Dodgers at Diamondbacks. While the East coast enjoys summer's last stand, with temperatures approaching the 90's, chillier, rainy weather rears its ugly head in Big Ten country -- from Chicago throughout the Ohio Valley.